If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Famed and insanely prolific fiction author Harlan Ellison filed suit in an L.A. federal court yesterday to halt the release of New Regency's upcoming sci-fi thriller 'In Time', claiming copyright infringement. Ellison, who has a long history of filing (and winning) high profile copyright claims, alleges that the film heavily co-opts themes, plots, and character similarities from his 1965 short story 'Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman'.
The upcoming film stars Justin Timberlake as Will Salas - a lowly worker in a dystopian world where people stop aging at 25 and must work to buy themselves more time. People buy food with it, they get paid in days and weeks, they trade it for goods. When Will is suddenly given more time than he can imagine, he finds himself at odds against a corrupt police force out to get him. Similarly, Ellison's short story is set in a dystopian world where time is strictly managed and workers who don't conform to the rigorous schedule are "docked" time off their lives, until they are eventually "turned off" when their time runs out. Both the film and the story center around the main hero who disrupts the system of time-allotment and becomes a target for the "Timekeepers" who sic their armed forces on him to quell any attempts at non-conformity.
The short story by Ellison is one the most reprinted short stories in the English language, and has been translated into a variety of other languages. It's so well known that even reviewer/critic Richard Roeper mistakenly attributed the film as being "based on a brilliant short story by the great Harlan Ellison" in his Fall Movie Preview. According to the suit, the author is seeking an injunction against the film to bar it from being released, and that all copies of the film be impounded and destroyed. As is the case with most legal cases of this type, it will most likely end in a cash settlement with the author and proper credit for his work.